President Asif Ali Zardari reiterated his call for polio eradication urging all segments of society, including religious leaders, the media, non-governmental organisations and civil society, to work together to get rid of the menace completely.
According to a press release issued on Friday, the president chaired a meeting to review the situation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Agency (Fata), emphasising the involvement of Ulema and the tribal leaders for a successful polio drive in the region.
Special Assistant to the prime minister and the focal person on polio eradication Shahnaz Wazir Ali briefed the meeting about the efforts taken by the government to eradicate polio while K-P Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Ghulam Dastghir Akhtar and Fata Additional Chief Secretary Dr Tashfeen Ahmad gave an overview about the latest situation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and various areas of Fata.
The meeting was informed that 13 cases were reported in Fata and frontier regions, eight in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, three each in Sindh and Balochistan and two in Punjab, whereas Gilgit-Baltistan was polio-free.
It was also informed that though the number of polio cases have reduced significantly from 73 cases last year to 29 cases this year, the improvement was not satisfactory keeping in view the commitment being shown at the highest level.
The president also laid emphasis on the role played by the local community, especially women, which was crucial for convincing parents about the benefits of polio vaccines and neutralising negative propaganda and misconceptions.
While appreciating the assistance of the international community in the eradication of polio, the president called upon the representatives of international bodies present at the meeting to use their experience of working in various conflict zones globally for the success of polio campaigns in inaccessible areas.
Pakistan’s goodwill ambassador for polio eradication Aseefa Bhutto Zardari also praised the role and assistance of international bodies in eradicating polio from the country and said that the presence of polio virus at some pockets in the country where it breeds freely was a matter of great concern.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.